Report>>Ensuring Universal Access To Health and Education in India, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, Delhi 2007
A popular sociological theory has it that governments often ensure that education is not widely available as it is difficult to control an educated lot. This seems to be exactly what is happening in India. Nine per cent of the budget was promised for education and health in the ruling United Progressive Alliance's National Common Minimum Programme. The New-Delhi based-"Wada Na Todo Abhiyan" (keep your promise campaign) demands that the government deliver this.
The discrepancy between the promised allocation and what actually gets allocated affects children the most. Elementary education in India is characterized by high drop out rates, persistent inequality and poor quality.
The report under review is a demand charter from children.Mobilized by the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, they demand a 6 per cent allocation in the budget for education and a three per cent allocation for health. Their slogan is "Nine is mine". More than 200,000 signatures from children around the country were collected and presented it to the prime minister before the union budget was presented in 2007. It's another matter that the government paid little heed to the demands, that year and even this year. In the 2008 budget only 2.84 per cent of the funds have been allocated for education and less than 1 per cent for health.
In November 2007, the campaign came out with this report. The report provides information on the current status of health and education in the country using specific examples such as the impact of privatisation and Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights. It notes that middle class agendas dominate health care strategies and the needs of the marginalized--among them the women and children--suffer. The finance minister should have done well to take note of some of its recommendations--it's another matter he did not.
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